Whether you have a job that requires you to sit in a chair all day long or you’re very active and exercise regularly, taking good care of your feet can help prevent the development of injury and pain in the back, knees and hips.
Think about all the stress your daily activities put on your feet – whenever you move, they help transport your body weight around. They are the most hard-working part of the body, yet receive little to no attention when it comes to exercise or health choices. Until they start to hurt!
To strengthen your feet and prevent foot injuries and further painful complications including your back and knees, try the following exercises.
1. Toe Presses
Toe presses are a great relaxation exercise that can efficiently warm up your feet before you engage them in an activity. While standing, bend slightly in the knees. Grip the floor with the toes and hold for a few seconds, then release. Repeat for ten times. You can do this a few times a day or simply whenever you feel the need to release tension from the feet.
2. Toe Walking
Walking on your toes is a great way to strengthen many of the small muscles in your toes and feet. Try to stand on your tiptoes and walk for at least 20 seconds. Rest for a moment, then repeat five more times. Do the whole set once again after a few hours.
3. Ankle Circles
By improving the flexibility of your ankles, you can reduce the risk of muscle injuries and back, hip and knee pain. Ankle mobility also has an important influence on your athletic performance and the effects of tight ankles can be felt throughout the whole body during a strenuous physical activity.
One easy way to increase the flexibility of your ankles and relieve them from stress is by performing ankle circles. Lie on the floor with one leg extended over the head. Rotate the extended leg’s ankle in a clockwise direction ten times, then do it in a counterclockwise direction for another ten times. Switch legs and repeat the movement. Do this twice a day, preferably as a warm up before exercising.
4. Resisted Flexion
Besides preventing injury, this exercise is great for improving your overall balance. It strengthens both the muscles in your feet and calves.
While sitting on the floor, straighten your feet out in front of you. Wrap an exercise band around the forefoot while holding the ends in both hands. With toes pointing up, push the foot against the resistance of the band until you feel a solid tension. Hold for a few moments, then release. Repeat this at least ten times.
5. Toe Pencil Pickups
This easy exercise requires only a pen or a pencil. Place the pen on the floor and while standing, use your toes to grab it and elevate it off the ground (you could even try to bring it up to your hand), hold it for a while, then place it back. Repeat the movement for five times with each foort.